There’s one thing that goat owners learn very quickly: goats hate water. We’ve all seen our goats race for shelter when the rain begins, laughed as they jumped over puddles, and a few of us have even used a squirt gun to discourage inappropriate behavior.
And yet, another thing we’ve all learned is that there are always exceptions to the rule. And here at the dairy, we have one extremely notable exception, though our entire herd has become rather more tolerant of water than the average dairy goat.
Lime, a young La Mancha goat, has proven herself to be quite the swimmer.
I’ll never forget the first time I caught the goats in these antics. As many of you know, our herd browses on a mixture of forest and pasture during most of the year. There are a few ponds, and a rather large creek runs through the property as well. More than once I have had the fortune of catching the herd crossing the creek at a low point, jumping, swimming, and walking through the water rather nonchalantly. So when a couple of goats had turned up recently with hair that showed evidence of being wet, I thought nothing of it.
One of my favorite things to do is to take the camera and go out and walk with the goats. I take pictures, shoot video, and just hang out with the girls. It was quite a hot afternoon when I decided to go out – I checked the GPS location of the goats (two of the herd members wear trackers on their collars), finding them relatively close, near a group of ponds. They often rested in this location and I figured I had plenty of time to catch up to them.
When I approached, I immediately became concerned – there was a goat in the water! A storm had blown over several trees into the water; the goat must have climbed out for leaves and slipped. I hurried towards the scene, worried that the goat was caught up in branches and unable to get out. As I got closer, I stopped in surprise, realizing that the goat was swimming.
I turned the camera on right away, knowing no one would believe it unless I had proof! I hardly believed it myself. What kind of goats are we raising around here? Lime was just a head bobbing about in the water, and she wasn’t alone either – several other goats had joined her in an effort to reach what had to be some really delicious leaves.
I moved closer to get a better look, the goats ignoring me as they usually did in these instances, and was just blown away by the antics of these La Mancha. And it’s interesting to note too that it’s only the La Mancha (and primarily Lime) that I catch swimming or wading voluntarily. While the Nigerian Dwarf will cross water if they must, I’ve yet to catch one swimming or wading just to browse.
Over that summer and fall, I caught them in the ponds several more times. It still surprises me to see them indulge in this behavior, but I have to say it makes for some great video! As for health concerns, we’ve yet to have any issues stemming directly from the swimming (or drinking of pond water) but precautions should always be taken when it comes to animals around open water.